Pithole City Visitors Center and Museum - Cornplanter Township, PA
Posted by: Szuchie
N 41° 31.438 W 079° 34.876
17T E 618369 N 4597896
Quick Description: This museum stands as a testament to one of the most infamous ghost towns in Pennsylvania!
Location: Pennsylvania, United States
Date Posted: 3/19/2008 4:48:07 PM
Waymark Code: WM3DGT
The coordinates above are for the Pithole City's Visitor Center and Historic Museum. There visitors can catch a glimpse of what this areas was like during the oil boom before hiking down the hill into "town" to experience the remains of this once vibrant city.
According to the NRHP Record Archive - Pithole City, when plotted in May of 1865, had five-hundred building lots and twenty-two streets. The major streets of the city were Holmden, running north and south, and First, which ran east and west and intersected Holmden. As the population increased to over 10,000, many wooden structures were quickly built to accommodate the influx. Nearly all the structures were quickly build to accommodate the influx. Nearly all the structures were of wood which proved a hazard when a series of fires broke out later in the year.
At its height there were two banks, two telegraph offices, a daily paper, a water works, fire company, two churches, many boarding houses, grocery stores, hardware stores, machine shops, saloons, and brothels.
Today Pithole City is a series of streets, cellar holes, and guide markers describing the features of the former community. It is located on a slope above the Pithole Creek, north of Plumer and about tem miles southeast of Titusville.
According to Wikipedia - In January 1865, oil was discovered at the Frazier Well (also called the US Well) along Pithole Creek at 250 barrels a day, six years after Edwin L. Drake struck oil at Drake Well in Titusville, PA and six weeks after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Two weeks later, oil was discovered at the nearby Twin Wells. By April, 3,000 Teamsters were employed at Pithole.
In May 1865, Colonel A.P. Duncan and George C. Prather purchased the land around Pithole from the widow of Thomas Holmden for $25,000. They divided the land into 500 lots, which they leased to businesses and individuals coming to work in the thriving oil industry. With the discovery of another oil well in June, the Homestead Well, population in Pithole quickly rose to around 2,000 people. Oil was discovered at Grant Well and Pool Well in August, and by September, Pithole was home to 15,000 people, had 57 hotels, The Pithole Daily Record newspaper, and the third busiest post office in Pennsylvania, handling more than 5,000 pieces of mail a day. By October, oil production around Pithole was estimated at 6,000 barrels a day. The borough was incorporated in December 1865. The Pithole Valley Railroad was completed, a reservoir and water pipe system was laid out, and two hotels Danforth House and the Bonta House opened. In early 1866, the town still welcomed prizefighter Ben Hogan to the Athenaeum theather (February), dedicated a Methodist church (May), and organized the men's social club, the Swordsman Club (June), but the town was already declining. From its peak population of 15,000 people in September 1865, population had already fallen to 4,000 by January 1866.
Oil was running out, the hastily constructed wooden buildings were falling victim to fire, and new wells were being discovered at nearby areas. Major fires in April and August of 1866 burning several city blocks and 27 wells brought the population down even further to just 2,000 people by December 1866. After another fire destroyed 20 buildings in 1868, the newspaper was relocated to Petroleum Center, PA and by 1870, the population had fallen to 281. In 1877, Pithole's charter as a borough was officially annulled. The city was sold to Venango County commissioners for $4.37 in 1879.
In 1961, the site was given to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission by owner James Stevenson. Today, only a few cellars and mowed paths mark the buildings and former streets of Pithole. A visitor's center, with a small museum, city directories, and a scale model of Pithole at its peak, is open from June through Labor Day. The site is maintained by the Drake Well Museum.
Off Route 227, near LR 60049
Cornplanter Twnshp, PA USA
Food Court: no
Gift Shop: yes
Hours of Operation:
June through Labor Day
Cost: 0.00 (listed in local currency)
Museum Size: Small
Relevant Web Site: [Web Link]
In order to log this waymark in this category, you must be able to provide proof of your visit. Please post a picture of yourself or your GPSr in front some identifiable feature or point of interest either in the museum, or on the museum grounds.